So Belfast finally has it’s trans-atlantic flight back on the schedule.
After United Airlines cancelled its (fantastic) daily service to Newark in early January (grrrrrrr), speculation has been rife on which airline (if any) will replace this service – a route that is not only needed for #NInja holiday seekers but moreso for the economic impact that business can provide in / to / from the USA.
And today, confirming recent rumours, Norwegian Air stepped up to the plate with a service from Belfast International to New York (AND Boston) starting in the summer.
But what does it mean for all us #NInja holiday makers, let’s have a look:
Airline
Norwegian Air is essentially a low cost budget airline, so don’t be expecting the quality service and amenities of an Emirates, or Virgin Atlantic!
It certainly won’t be to the same standard as the United Airlines flight either – think somewhere between that and a regular Easyjet flight and that’s the quality you will be looking at.
 
Schedule
Belfast International to Stewart International, New York – 3 flights per week
AND
Belfast International to Green Airport, Providence – 2 flights per week
Price Point
The Chief Exec of Norwegian Air, Bjorn Kjos, has been quoted as saying transatlantic flights from Ireland should on average cost about $300 to $350 return (approx. £280).
This obviously is the big selling point – a transatlantic flight price for under £300 is certainly not to be sniffed at, and works out a good £150 cheaper than the average United Airlines cost.
The advertised “£69” costs will be there BUT you will have to be flexible and search away -a sneaky trick to get people onto the site. But prices will be very keen and at first glance will be an outstanding price – until you work out extras which bump it up a little … but there are loads of dates there for around £130 return basic rate since they just got released .. act quick before they are gone!
Baggage
Digging deeper on the cost reveals that the price above does NOT include a checked bag – it would be hand luggage only.
SO if you wanted to add in that checked bag it will cost an extra £50 per route (so £100 return …). That option will also open up a meal menu and seat reservation.
Basically, if you want to shop in New York then you will have to budget an extra £100 on the flight cost that you find, as there is no way you are getting it all back in the hand luggage bag!
Airports
This is the BIG issue really.
Norwegian Air use Stewart International Airport, about 70 miles from New York, and TF Green Airport, 60 miles from Boston.
To put this into perspective, the United Airlines flight which flew into Newark was about a 15 mile, 30 minute drive to Manhattan.
It will take about 90 mins to get from Stewart International to Manhattan. And the same to get to Boston if you fly into Providence.
Something that you need to consider when booking this flight – also there doesn’t appear to be any onward connection options ….
Conclusion
Essentially this is fantastic news for Northern Ireland. The country and airports need a direct route to the United States and in reality it could be anywhere, but the fact that it’s to the East Coast and close enough to NYC and Boston will be a big pull for any potential holiday makers wanting to take in the BIG Apple. However, for holiday-makers, I would still work out your total costs and consider the alternative of flying from Dublin which could well still be cheaper, on a better class of airline /aircraft, as well as processing all your custom regulations on this side of the pond. More competition can only be good for us #Ninjas though in snagging a bargain! And the more flight options we have from Belfast can ONLY BE A GREAT THING!!
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